LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 042- I Am Gamer, Killdozer, One More Last Time, Hero of Thera, Assassin's Play-Off
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 042- I Am Gamer, Killdozer, One More Last Time, Hero of Thera, Assassin's Play-Off
“Hello everyone. Welcome to the LitRPG Audiobook Podcast. I’m Ray. I’ll be reviewing some recent and classic LitRPG Audiobooks for you. I’ll begin with: ”
I Am Gamer (01:02)
Score: 7.8 out of 10
Killdozer - Arbiter Core, Book 1 (12:43)
Score: 8.2 out of 10
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Hero of Thera (43:17)
Score: 8.3 out of 10
Ray’s Pick (56:15)
I Am Gamer
By: Gabriel Rathweg
Narrated by: Gabriel L Rathweg
Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
Well, here is a book that satisfies several of my loves. Such as Litrpg and Time travel. Good combos that you can’t go wrong with for good tale. This is one of the rare books that I always say that is brilliant or insane, and it is where the author actually decided to narrate his own book. Personally, I admire such courage, and I always hope that the writer does such a thing because they know their character so well that they know they can handle the nuanced emotions and vocal stresses that a narrator has to guess at. So, that is where I’m going to start. With the narration.
Gabriel asked me to be kind, but I’d rather be honest. You can pretty much tell that this wasn’t made with high end audio booth technology. I’m not sure what Gabriel used, but it doesn’t feel the same as a normal audio production. I could be off, but that is how it sounds to me. Secondly, the story could have stood some slightly better editing. Several times I heard things repeat. Now, I am going to be fair and say that I actually enjoyed hearing Rathweg doing the various voices and telling his story HIS way. You don’t get that a lot, and I know it took a huge amount of time to produce this book the way he wanted it and I don’t hold his vocal prowess against him. I think he did a pretty decent job for a first timer. I have heard professional narrators not handle characters this well, and completely flub a story, but I did get an honest chuckle with how Rathweg made certain to properly pronounce certain words. It almost felt like he’d heard someone say supposebly or En Signs and tried to side step those floor traps. This certainly isn’t Netflix's Nailed It moment, and for a DIY novel it has legs. But, if I’m honest I’d suggest that he use a legit narrator in the future because I always say that a good narrator can elevate a story, and a pro could have sky rocketed this tale.
As for the writing I enjoyed the story, the MC was a cool dude and feels genuine. Sometimes the dialogue was off a touch, but overall it was fun. I will never complain about time travel stories. I have been addicted to time travel since I first watched the Time Tunnel as a kid and I think Gabriel handles the travel aspects pretty well for the most part. There were some things I don’t think he should have been having to teach indigenous people, but hey, I can sus[end my disbelief and say that happened.
We get game mechanics that are familiar, which I appreciate. I hate having to learn some complicated gaming styles that drain the fun right out of the story. I will say that the MC starts out OP pretty quickly, but it is balanced by his opponents being OP as well. I do get picky about overly strong characters, but just like in the good guy series by Ugland this proves that you can have an Overpowered hero/MC so long as there is a balance, and I get that here. IN fact, I really don’t know if he is OP or just better than most normal humans. For me, the real standout is the way in which we get to see native American mythology employed. I don’t think I’ve ever read that in a Litrpg novel before. The catch here is that the gods want to Little Big Horn the entire “Go West Young Man” movement before it ever catches on. This is to be a not how the west was lost, but how the west was closed for bidness. Cool concept, and it gets played pretty well.
Over all, I enjoyed the book, but there were a few hiccups that could have been skirted with some professional editing soundwise (sorry, can’t overlook that). I like that the book has a sort of playlist to go with, and it was fun. Final score 7.8 stars. Could have benefitted from a more professional touch
Arbiter Core, Book 1
By: Cory Gaffner
Narrated by: Eric Bryan Moore
Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
So, gonna come clean here. I was a little devastated by this book and the direction it went. I’m sure that most of you, when you hear the word Killdozer automatically think of when the one crazy guy welded armor onto his bulldozer and set off to perform acts of murder and mayhem, and only managed to get himself killed in the process and only doing some property damage. Me? I am a horror junkie and as soon as I hear the word Killdozer I think of the old Clint Walker flick in which a bulldozer comes to life and starts greasing construction guys. Plus, you have to give it credit because it predated the ’77 horror flick the Car by three years, which went on to inspire Stephen King’s Christine. Hell, Killdozer even inspired Marvel Comic book, an issue that I actually have! So, I was all set for some madcap killing by a boy and his dozer.
Which wasn’t what I got.
Instead, Killdozer plays out like the start of the rampage that Marvin John Heemeyer, ya gotta say the three names or it isn’t right, went on before he got killed. The MC, Hank, is a fell who has been pushed past his breaking point by unscrupulous individuals out to break him for perceived past wrongs. We get to his initial assault on city hall when things take a severe turn.
Now, I have to say right off that even though I didn’t get the story I was hoping for or expecting that I still enjoyed the tale. Hank is one hell of an awesome character that you can’t help but like. He is sort of like Ron Swanson on steroids, all man, with a take no crap from anybody attitude. He is the kinda guy that would say I didn’t start it, but I am sure as hell gonna finish it. He carries the entire story on his huge shoulders, and to be honest it wouldn’t matter what he was doing, so long as he was the one doing it. I loved the guy. He’s hardcore, but not unfeeling. Tough but fair, and principled.
So the story diverges into a Green Lantern Corps or Nova Corps feeling, depending on whether you prefer DC or Marvel. Either way he gets offered an opportunity to join an intergalactic police force, and decides to power up his awesome weapon the killdozer.
Again, this is really about when the lit stuff comes into play, and fair warning, the lit stuff is pretty light. It feels a lot like sprinkles added into a cream filled donut with icing. Delicious and fun but not really necessary to the tale. It would play out just as well without the lit action as without. That means that the story is pretty good, because that is how every lit book should be, it shouldn’t depend on stats and quests to make it great. Again, the story is fun, the characters are interesting, and the story is involving.
Moore, a newcomer to the genre, does really well. I actually have one of his earlier audiobooks, The Undead Pool, which is an obvious parody of a well known Marvel superhero and I loved him in that. Also, he also narrates the Bulletproof Adventures of Damien Stockwell, which I have been considering getting because they looked fun. Here, Moore does a fantastic job and he plays both genders well, and manages to let you feel the frustration that Poor Hank is going through. So, he keeps pace well, adds in emotion when and where it is needed and makes it all feel easy as he does so. This is someone that I would love to see hit the community with a big splash in the future.
Final score 8.2 stars.
One More Last Time A LitRPG/GameLit Novel (The Good Guys, Book 1)
By: Eric Ugland
Narrated by: Neil Hellegers
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
OK, so I went into this with low expectations. Honestly, the covers aren’t the best things to pull you in, they kind of look quick, cheap, and hooky. However, I do not let a crappy cover scare me off, nor do I let a good one sucker me into believing it is a great tale, but I will talk a bit more about covers in the show.
Anywho, I have to say that by the third chapter of this book I was utterly and completely enthralled. I was immediately sucked in. I loved the character, the world, the premise. The book hit every mark it was supposed to with me. First, and most importantly it got me into the game quickly. We didn’t go thirty five percent of the way in before hitting the game. It happens fairly early on. As in pretty much right out of the gate. That is how I prefer my LIT books, or any book to be. Get to the action, give me the exciting incident so I can enjoy the story. Ugland does just that. Secondly, the MC enters the game in a pretty cool and unique way. I especially liked how he could bring extra things in to the game for special perks. Third, we get to see that the MC isn’t perfect and does stupid things in spite of being smart. Now, I had heard that the MC is really dumb and it takes away the believability, but what I saw were a few instances of him not thinking his way completely through a problem and just relying on his abilities to get him out of danger. That’s most people. The rest I chalk up to naivete and inexperience. SO that issue gets a hard pass from me, I liked the way the MC handled things.
It honestly made me feel like I was reading about myself going into a game. I am a fairly intelligent person, but I do stupid things all the time, notably in social situations, and so I totally got the way the MC handled himself. Also, while the MC comes off as being OP it certainly doesn’t feel that way. At least not to me. I think there are some perks that the MC, Montana, lucked into and exploits in a standard way. The fact that he uses his OPness for some utterly cool events doesn’t hurt the readability of this book.
The best thing about this book, however, is that while it certainly is a sort of slice of life story it is a lot more. This feels like a serialized TV show, like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, in which each episode is a nearly self contained tale, but actually leads right into the next book, and carries on the tale, going further into the over arching tale that is laid out. Seriously, I am not a huge fan of slice of life, but this does not carry that tone at all. Each book picks up right where the last left off and there is no time gap. So, like I said, it carries the feel of a single episode in a larger more planned out story. This is totally one of those Netflix and chill type of audiobooks, where you just want to binge listen to the entire series in just one go.
Now, not all is kosher in Ugland, sorry Eric bad pun, I know. I did have an issue in the first book where the stats and powers/character sheet was done over and over to a point it was like a well that Eric kept going to so as to boost a word count here and there, but as the series goes on it does peter out more and more until it becomes more manageable and less annoying.
Neil Hellegers keeps popping up in more and more Litrpg books lately, sometimes I am a fan, other times I think he just does ok. This is a fella for whom the material matters. For example, he was perfect in the Great Filter until the last chapter and then didn’t fit so well. Not his fault, Just the way it panned out, but here he just kills. He is meant to play Montana the barbarian, and he does it well. This match, his voice and this story, is a rare melding of narrator and author but more importantly, narrator and character. It reminds me of how Jeff Hays and Quantum Hughes are made for one another.
8.5 stars I loved this book.
Hero of Thera
By: Eric Nylund
Narrated by: Jeff Hays
Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
This is one of those books that I don’t understand how I hadn’t gotten to it earlier, then I thank the gods that I just tumbled it, because book two only just recently came out. If I didn’t have a back up to fall back upon I can see that I would have been extremely disappointed. I am really excited to have this as my soundbooth spotlight, just because this book stands out so very well.
First of all, the book starts off like every other Litrpg novel you’ve ever read. Guy gets into a life and death game working for a faction he has no desire too because he has no choice. OK, so it isn’t exactly like every other lit book out there, but it does carry strong vibes of familiarity. What the book does right is to differentiate itself early on so that it loses the “I’ve seen this before vibe” and accelerates into holy cow, where are we going.
The premise is pretty simple, a dude who is framed for a terrorist action is approached by evil forces that offer him a chance to continue living(he’s scheduled for execution) so long as he plays for them. Seems that the old so it is on earth shall it be in heaven because even though the cat is innocent of the charges his guilty verdict carries over and his soul is damned. So he runs a trial version of “the game”, which is the only thing that is keeping humanity and all the various universes from destroying each other in a bid for ultimate power. It is right after the free trial version ends that things get really interesting. The story flies ahead at light speed introducing us to a great roster of characters, interesting scenarios, and a cool MC whose Soul Warrior is exactly what you want to be reading about if you grew up on chop socky films, like me. I think this is why wuxia and cultivation books appeal to me so much.
Hektor St Savage is a likable character most importantly. He doesn’t whine or bemoan his lot in life and he is only ever thinking of how to outwit his opponents or improve himself. The only dark mark, in my opinion, is that it telegraphs what is going to happen at the end if you pay close attention to what is said and done, and really think about the circumstances around what happens to Hector. That said, it really isn’t even all that big a deal, and I doubt that everyone will cotton on to what is going to occur. BTW, this complaint isn’t really even a consideration so much as an observation because as telegraphed as it was I still relished every second of the book, and wanted the next book as soon as I put this one down.
The narration here is handled completely by Jeff Hays, and for me it was a grand thing to be able to just sit back and listen to Jeff do his thing without farming out parts to other SBT players. Again, I love it when the gang does a production together, but there is something about having a solitary narrator deliver you the tale, especially one as talented as Jeff Hays. He made every second of this book fun, exciting, humorous, and heartfelt. I love solo Hays books.
Final score 8.3 stars.
By: Warren Murphy, Richard Sapir
Narrated by: Gray Gleason
Length: 4 hrs and 53 mins
Hero of Thera made me nostalgic for one of my favorite series of all time, and that is Warren Murphy’s The Destroyer. You may have seen the one film based off the series, Remo Williams, the Adventure begins with Fred Ward, or even the failed TV pilot that starred Roddy McDowell of Planet of the Apes and Fright Night fame, and while I love both of them they are to the Destroyer series what every other martial art is to Sinanju, pale comparisons. Shadows made from the light.
For those of you who don’t know the book series is about a secret governmental organization that actually does its job, and takes out enemies of the united states, criminals, and all around bad guys. Sometimes this is something simple like stopping a war, or fighting a vampire. You never know. The organization is called CURE and they have contracted the master of sinanju to train a recruit in the ways of the one true martial art. Remo and Chuin, the master, eventually bond as master and student although they never really seem to get along. The books are fun, lighthearted, pulpy, and quickly completed. These are 70’s serial books that were put out every few months, which makes me think of authors and Amazon today. Also, they do have a semi-lit feel to them as Remo is constantly leveling up his powers, but the truth of the matter this is the first Wuxia stuff back before there was Wuxia.
Assassin’s Play off completes a series of encounters between Remo and a former student, and actual nephew of Chuin. Honestly, if you haven’t read any of the prior books you might be a little lost as most of the pairs powers and abilities aren’t showcased. They are often alluded to, or seen in quick brief strikes, but overall you never really get to see them doing all the amazing things they do in practically every other novel. A huge majority of the novels are on Kindle, but only a handful are on audible and I don’t know why.
If you do decide to check out this series, start at book three or four, the first few novels were where Murphy and Sapir were still finding their character’s way, and they didn’t know if it was going to just be a James Bond kung fu type adventure or something more, but book three and then four really cement the storyline and the adventure, as the movie tagline suggests, begins.
Now, some warnings. These books were written in the 70’s and up and so carry a lot of overtones that some people might find offensive. For example, the term Oriental is consistently used in lieu of the word Asian, the books are pretty sexist and promote male superiority for the most part, but there are some severely kick ass female characters that show up from time to time. If you can’t overlook that then skip it, but the story is just as worthy as you’d hope. It is complete pulp and nothing but fun and fights, cool martial arts actions, and father son relationship dynamics that are just hilarious.
Gray Gleason is absolutely amazing and there are some great sound effects and sadly, these are the only books that he has done. He really should be doing more audio, and if I were an up and coming author I would have my eye on this dude. While Audible does not have a lot of Destroyer stuff, Graphic Audio does have quite a few CD format Destroyer tales to pick from, but they are all the older books, the ones after the 100th novel, yeah there are that many books out there because they are so sweet.
My only caution is that this isn’t the book to break in on the Destroyer, as it really doesn’t explain a lot and you don’t see the skill sets that they have like you should. However, I do recommend the series on kindle or the new series they started called Forgotten Son. Either way, this is one of the most cherished series I have read, and like a say that if you are a Wuxia fan then this would be perfect for you. Give it a look.
Thanks oh so very much for watching everyone, I do appreciate you taking to the time to watch or listen to the show. If you want to support us, you can like the LitRPG Podcast facebook page or the YouTube Page, or just share and like the video. I’m going to ask for more suggestions for the Is it LIT segment, I’ve got a good one for next time, but will always need ideas. Please leave comments or suggestions in the comments below, and feel free to tell me whatever you like. I enjoy the feedback.
For LitRPG Audiobook Podcast, I’m Ray. Keep listening!!!
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